7 Costly Mistakes To Avoid On Google AdWords

Mistakes are common. Everyone makes them. Once a mistake is made, nothing can be done to reverse it. To avoid mistakes, you need to learn from people who have made them.

There’s a lot to learn about Google AdWords. The PPC market is always changing. Every PPC consultant has made mistakes at some point in their career.

In order to have a successful AdWords campaign, you need to avoid common mistakes beginners make. If you want to master PPC, avoid the following list of mistakes shown below.

1. Using Broad Keyword Types

Keyword match types is one of the least understood aspect of Google AdWords for beginners and this mistake can be very costly. A common mistake made by most beginners (including myself!) is choosing keywords that are too broad. Using broad keywords will get a lot of clicks and impressions however they won’t be targeted to your specific niche.

They are four different types of keyword match types Google AdWords use.

  • Broad Match
  • Broad Match Modifier
  • Phrase Match
  • Exact Match

Each of these keyword match types has its own advantages and disadvantages. The keyword match types will match searches in any order and allows your keywords to reach a wider audience.

Reduce broad keywords and replace them with more targeted keywords that are relevant to your ad and landing page. Long tail keywords would also be ideal to use as they tend to be more targeted.

2. Grouping Keywords Incorrectly

When creating a campaign on AdWords, targeted keywords will need to be used. You can add as many keywords as you want to an ad group for a specific campaign. Not using ad groups is a common mistake beginners make. They lump all of their keywords into one ad group instead of segmenting their ads into groups based around similar types of keywords.

An ad group should be a concise collection of keywords matched up with a few ads. These ads MUST match with the keywords being used. (Preferably use these keywords in your ad)

Ad-Words-Structure(Source: http://www.wordstream.com/ad-campaigns)

Each ad campaign will consist of an ad group that contains a group of keywords. Once a user searches for a specific keyword that is part of your campaign, your ad will be shown. Having a larger number of keywords that are not targeted to your niche will harm your AdWords campaign.

For example, it would be pointless to have an ad group that has the following keywords:

Red Jumper

Blue Jumper

Pink Jumper

What will your ads show? It’s not practical to have an ad that targets an audience for all these three keywords. What you need to do is have three different ad campaigns that show ads for a specific group of keywords.

Grouping keywords can be a challenging process. Larry Kim, founder of WordStream, gives an overview of a strategy that works well for him.

3. Absence of Negative Keywords

Not using negative keywords in your ad campaign could blow your budget. Using negative keywords will help you avoid wasting clicks on customers with little intention of buying your products.

Negative keywords are words that prevent your ad from being shown once the user has searched for a specific word or phrase.

Bren Hammel from Eureka SEM discovered an exceptionally increase in CTR from 0.97% to 1.33% due to the use of negative keywords. The conversion rate had also increase from 1.12% to 1.53%.

Using negative keywords is the easier way to reach the most targeted customers, reduce your costs and improve CTR.

Let’s take an example of the best place to use negative keywords.

Let’s say I search for “free ppc agency service”.

Negative-Keyword-ExampleThe search results show PPC agencies that MAY provide some sort of free PPC service. However one ad stands out with the title “Pay Per Click from £75.” (Highlighted in red) This ad would be pointless as the user is looking for a free service.

The keyword “free” would be an ideal negative keyword to use in their ad campaign.

To find a good list of negative keywords to use, visit https://www.webmechanix.com/negative-keyword-list. The website provides over 200 negative keywords to use.

To know how to add negative keywords in your ad campaign, watch this video:


4. Not Bidding on your own Brand

Your brand might appear on the top of Google in organic searches but by not bidding (having an ad campaign with your company name as a keyword) on your own brand gives your competitors a chance of appearing on the top of Google and therefore outrank you.

When searching for the keyword search term “empire casino” (casino based in Leicester Square), the following results show.


The first three results show sponsored ads by Google that advertise other types of casinos. It seems most likely that Empire Casino are not bidding on their own brand, potentially losing themselves new customers.

Bidding on your brand will be cheap (low CPC) as there’s less competition for your keyword. Depending on your ad relevance and landing page experience, brand ads naturally receive a higher quality score. CTR is likely to be high as your customers are targeted and are searching for your brand specifically.

Below is a list that shows the importance of bidding on brand keywords.

Brand-Bidding-Reasons(Source: http://qiigo.com/front-page/the-importance-of-bidding-on-brand-keywords/)

Studies show that by bidding on your own brand as well as being on top on organic search results will result to 88% of all clicks.

If your ad was to appear on the right hand side, it would result to 67% of all clicks and if there’s no ad at all, it will be 56% of all clicks.

5. Directing Traffic to Wrong Page

Directing your AdWords traffic to either the homepage or a search engine optimised webpage of your product / service will make the buying process longer for a potential customer. You need to make the buying process as easy as possible.

Your ads need to be directed to a landing page that focuses on a Call to Action.


Above is an example of a landing page used by Match.com. Their Call to Action is to register an account before being able to have full access to their website. To register, you will need to provide some personal information and your email address.

When running a business, your most common form of communication will be through emails so it’s really important you build an email list of potential customers.

The best landing pages will display the exact information that’s already shown on your Google ads. Research has shown that short copy webpages perform better when there is low risk, low cost and less commitment involved by the customer (i.e. concert tickets). Long copy websites perform better when there is a rational, analytical and need-oriented motivation involved (i.e. insurance products)

Sending your AdWords traffic to the right landing page will also improve your quality score meaning low cost per click.

6. Not Testing your Ads and Optimal Ad Position

A/B Testing your Ads

Always, always, always test your ads. PPC can be expensive, you could lose a lot of money over a short period of time, especially when you don’t test your ads against each other. This is called A/B testing (sometimes also known as split testing). The ad with a higher Click-Through rate will be the ad that performs better.

In order to get accurate results, ads need to be shown evenly to potential customers and the exact same keyword needs to be used for all tested ads. To do this, click on the campaign you want the ads to be shown evenly and then Settings. Go to Advanced Settings followed by Ad Delivery. You will have 4 options to pick from. To show the ads evenly to customers, choose Rotate Evenly.

Ad-DeliveryYou need to test 4 sections of the ad to improve your Click-Through rate. The headline, description line 1 and 2, the link and then keywords used to display the ad. The final URL destination will be the same most of the time.


The headline of an ad is seen in blue and appears on the top of an ad. It’s good practice to use the keyword somewhere in the headline. Description line 1 and 2 is the body text of the ad. Here you should give more information to users about your service/product.#

In order to test your ads, write two or three different variations. For example, you could have the first variation with the same description line 1 and 2, same link, use the same keyword but different headline.

AB-Test-Ad-1AB-Test-Ad-2In this example shown above, you can see two different variations of ads being tested. Same headline but different body text and display URL.

Make sure the ads are being displayed over a fixed period for all tested ads. You may wish to label any tested ads to help you identify them.

Once you get your results, go to http://www.hubspot.com/ab-test-calculator and enter your results. Tries is the number of impressions and goals is the number of clicks. The website will then show you results of which of the ads is performing better. You may choose to use this ad in your campaign which is fine but you must test this ad against a new variation.

Testing your Ad Rank for your Ads

Ad rank is a value that’s used to determine your ad position. (Where your ads are position on the page). Ad rank is calculated by multiplying CPC Bid and Quality Score.

Ad Rank = CPC Bid x Quality Score

According to research by Hallam, ads that are positioned 2nd or 3rd perform better than the 1st.

Ad-Position-Image(Source: https://www.hallaminternet.com/2015/google-adwords-which-ad-position-is-best/)

Ads positioned 1st on AdWords may not always get the best conversions. Every advertising campaign is different so it’s always worth testing your ad positions to see which position gets the best conversions.

7. Not Tracking Conversions

Not tracking your ads will be a costly mistake. You will have no idea which of your ads is profitable or unprofitable. In order to maximize ROI, you need historical data that needs to be analysed. Ads cannot be A/B tested without tracking your conversions.

A conversion takes place when a visitor takes an action. This could be either purchasing a product, email sign up or even a quote request. Tracking your conversions will show you how and where to focus your ad spend in the future.

If you haven’t already done so, set up and track conversion rates in Google Analytics.


Targeting your ads to the right audience is important. The long term goal is to generate leads / purchases with the right keywords and ads. By avoiding costly mistakes, you’re a step closer in achieving a successful ad campaign. Of course, there are many other mistakes that could be made when using Google AdWords but the list above provides the common ones.